The Xbox Series X is capable of delivering Dolby Atmos 3D surround sound.
This audio technology gives you a spatial sound experience, which places you in the middle of the action while gaming.
With Dolby Atmos, you can quickly and accuratly tell whether and enemy is in front, behind, beside, or even above you when they’re not visible to you. All from the tap of their feet on the floor while they walk.
This makes playing some of your favorite games on the Xbox Series X even better.
To unlock the Dolby Atmos feature on the Xbox Series X, you’ll need a soundbar or audio system that supports HDMI ARC (audio return channel) or HDMI eARC (enhanced audio return channel) because Atmos doesn’t work via an optical connection.
The sound system also needs to be compatible with Dolby Atmos.
The Xbox Series X, however, doesn’t have an ARC-enabled HDMI port.
Does the Xbox Series X support Arc? No, the Xbox Series X doesn’t support ARC. The console has no HDMI ARC port, so to be able to enjoy the Xbox Series X Dolby Atmos sound via your HDMI ARC-enabled soundbar you would have to connect your arc enabled sound bar to your TV. Most modern TVs support HDMI ARC or eARC.
Now that you know that the Xbox Series X doesn’t support HDMI ARC, read on to find out what HDMI ARC is and how to get Dolby Atmos sound from your Xbox Series X via an HDMI ARC connection.
What is HDMI ARC?
If you have a modern TV, 2009 or newer, look at the back of it, and you’ll most likely see that one of its HDMI ports is labeled HDMI ARC.
If you have one of the latest TVs, it will have HDMI eARC, which is an upgrade of HDMI ARC.
HDMI ARC stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface Audio Return Channel.
It is a technology supported by most modern home entertainment systems.
HDMI ARC allows you to send the audio signal from your TV to an ARC-compatible soundbar or audio-video receiver using a single HDMI cable.
For example, if you have connected your soundbar to your TV via HDMI ARC, your TV will send the audio it receives from your Xbox Series X, DVD player, Apple TV, Netflix, etc., to your soundbar.
Simply put, with HDMI ARC, you don’t have to worry about connecting audio in and out cables for your different entertainment devices anymore.
For me, HDMI ARC is one of the coolest home theatre system features because:
1: ARC was designed to reduce the cables required to make a sound connection between your soundbar and your TV. It does this by allowing you to use a single HDMI cable for audio input and output. So, with ARC you can get rid of all those audio in and out cables that make the back of your TV look clumsy.
2: A HDMI ARC connection allows you to control your device’s audio, power, and other common functions using a single remote. For example, you can increase or decrease the volume on your Xbox Series X, or Apple TV device using your TV remote.
This is possible because HDMI cables allow the secure exchange of data between devices.
3: HDMI ARC allows you to enjoy Dolby Atmos surround sound, which is exceptionally good audio, and the best audio you Xbox Series X can output.
Do you need HDMI ARC?
My TV has a terrible sound.
Your TV probably also doesn’t have the best audio for gaming.
So, I would say yes, you do need HDMI ARC to transform your gaming audio into a cinematic experience.
How to use HDMI ARC with the Xbox Series X
As I said at the start, for you to enjoy gaming with Dolby Atmos sound you have to output your audio through an HDMI ARC connection.
To make this connection you’ll need:
- A soundbar with HDMI ARC or eARC support.
- Two HDMI cables. The Xbox Series X comes with one HDMI 2.1 cable. You can buy the second HDMI 2.1 cable from Amazon.
With these items ready, do the following:
1: Connect your Xbox Series X to your soundbar using one of the HDMI cables. One end of the cable will go into the HDMI Out port at the back of your Series X and the other to the HDMI In port of your sound system.
2: With the second HDMI 2.1 cable, connect your soundbar to your TV. For this connection use the HDMI ARC ports on both devices.
If you already have a TV and soundbar that have HDMI eARC ports use these ports to connect the two devices.
If your soundbar only has one HDMI port, connect your Xbox Series X to the TV using one of its HDMI Arc Ports. Then connect your TV to the soundbar using the device’s only available HDMI ARC port.
3: Open the Microsoft Store and download the Dolby Access app. You need this app to enable Dolby Atmos.
Once the download is complete, if your soundbar is not Dolby Atmos ready, on your TV screen, open the Xbox Series X System Settings from the console’s Home Screen.
4: Select General, then click on Volume and Audio Output. You’ll be given several sound options to choose from.
5: From the Speaker Audio menu, select Bitstream Out, then click on Dolby Atmos for Home Theater as the format for bitstream.
After completing the steps above you should be able to get Dolby Atmos sound when playing your games or movies.
Note, however, Dolby Atmos only works with Xbox Series X games like Gears 5, which support this sound format.
If the above steps seem a little confusing, don’t worry. I found a cracking video by All ABout HOme Electronics that explains how to set up your ARC connection. Take a look below:
What to do if your sound bar dosn’t support eARC.
If your soundbar doesn’t have an HDMI ARC port it most likely has an optical port.
You can use this port to connect your soundbar to the TV for audio, but remember, Dolby Atmos doesn’t work with optical connections.
To set up your optical port soundbar with the Series X, do the following.
1: Plug an HDMI cable into the Xbox Series X HDMI Out port and the other end to your TV’s HDMI Input.
2: Take an optical cable plug one end to your soundbar’s optical port and the other to your TV’s optical port.
3: Go to the Volume and Audio Output menu of your Xbox Series X. From the Speaker Audio menu, select Bitstream Out, then choose Dolby Digital or DTS Digital Surround as the bitstream format.